Getting Serious

Several years ago, I was interviewed by a leading Christian publication following a speaking engagement. The journalist was fascinated by not just the message I had given, but by the way I had given it. He indicated that none of the popular Bible teachers and speakers had such a confrontational, in-your-face presentation. Instead, he said, the trend was going more to suggestive, thoughtful delivery. He said the best speakers were getting away from the authoritative and confrontational style of preaching. Then he asked me why I spoke in the style that I did.

My response to the journalist was that I never pre-plan how I deliver a message. After prayerfully preparing it, I simply release it. But as I have reflected on his question, I know the way the message is “released” comes from my heart and the deep, inner conviction of truth that is there. It also comes from the very serious way I take my service to Christ.

I am convinced that the time to serve Christ is now! The words of Jesus in John 9:4 are haunting, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” Time is running out. The night is coming. It’s time to get serious about our service to Christ.

Read 2 Timothy 4

I. GET SERIOUS ABOUT THE CHARGE (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

  • Give the three descriptive phrases in 2 Timothy 4:1 that set up the charge. Match each phrase with one of the following verses: John 14:17-18, 20, 23; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, 16; 2 Peter 3:10-12; Matthew 24:42, 44-46.
  • Describe the seriousness implied by each phrase, and apply each to your own situation.

A. BE PREPARED

  • What are some ways to be prepared, according to 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 and 2 Timothy 2:15? 2:21? Titus 3:1?
    1 Peter 3:15? Ephesians 5:15-17?
  • What do you think the Apostle Paul meant when he instructed Timothy to “be prepared in season and out of season?”
  • How prepared are you?

B. BE PATIENT

  • From 2 Timothy 4:2-3, why do you think patience is required of those who are serious about their service?
  • Why is this same patience necessary for the sower in the parable of Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23?
  • How does James 5:7-8 emphasize this kind of patience?
  • In what way has your patience in service been tried?

C. BE PERSEVERANT

  • List the phrases in 2 Timothy 4:5.
  • Explain what is meant by each phrase using the following verses: Titus 2:12; 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 2 Timothy 2:3-7; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; 4:20.
  • Have you ever quit before finishing a job? A responsibility? A commitment?
  • What can you do to increase your perseverance? See Galatians 6:7-9 and Hebrews 12:1-3.
  • How serious are you about the charge? Serious enough to take it, apply it personally and obey it?

II. GET SERIOUS ABOUT THE CROWN (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

  • From the following verses, name the crowns that are promised to God’s children and what the crowns are rewarded for: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12 and Revelation 2:10; 1 Peter 5:4.
  • Do you think it’s possible to be saved and get into Heaven, yet not have a crown? Explain. See 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 and Revelation 3:11.
  • What do you think we may do with the crowns when we receive them? See Revelation 4:9-11.
  • Five minutes before you see Jesus face to face, what regrets will you have? What will you wish you had done differently? Will you wish you had been serious about the crown?
  • Will you get serious about the crown now … before the night comes?

III. GET SERIOUS ABOUT THE COST (2 Timothy 4:9-22)

A. THE PERSONAL COST

  • What personal price did Paul pay for taking his service to Christ seriously? See 2 Timothy 4:10.
  • According to Mark 14:50, how did Jesus also pay this same price for doing His Father’s will?
  • When have you been deserted by your friends—for doing the right thing?
  • How are you encouraged by Hebrews 13:5-6? 

B. THE SPIRITUAL COST

  • What spiritual price did Paul pay at the end of his faithful, very fruitful life? See 2 Timothy 4:14-15.
  • Are the servants of God ever exempt from this “cost?” See Matthew 4:1; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Ephesians 6:10-11.
  • Who has been attacking you? How should you respond, according to Matthew 5:11-12, 43-48 and 1 Peter 4:19?

C. THE EMOTIONAL COST

  • What emotional price did Paul pay for staying focused on God’s will for his life? See 2 Timothy 4:9, 16, 21.
  • If you are lonely, how do the following verses encourage you? Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 43:1-4; Psalm 91:14-16.

D. THE MATERIAL COST

  • What material things did Paul lack, which he needed? See 2 Timothy 4:13.
  • From a New Testament perspective, do you think illness, poverty and problems are signs of God’s disfavor? Answer with a phrase from each of the following verses: Philippians 1:12-14; 2 Timothy 1:11-12; Revelation 1:9; 1 Peter 3:13-14; Matthew 8:20; Mark 15:24.
  • What material things do you lack?
  • Do you think it is evidence that God doesn’t love you? Or isn’t blessing you? Or that you have made a wrong choice?
  • What could be His reason for allowing you to be in this situation? See 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 and 1 Peter 1:6-7.

E. THE ULTIMATE COST

Second Timothy is the last letter Paul ever wrote. As far as we know, he never saw Timothy again. Instead, within a relatively few short months of putting down his pen, church tradition says he was dragged three miles outside of the city, where the Roman soldiers chopped off his head.

  • Paul gave everything, including his own life, in order to serve Christ. From 2 Timothy 4:17-18, name at least five things he received for the price he paid.
  • Do you think Paul had any regrets for taking his service to Christ so seriously?
  • Besides Paul, who is our example in giving everything in order to receive all that God has to give? See Hebrews 12:1-3.
  • I can almost hear Paul’s voice raised in the chorus of Revelation 5:12-13. Can you sing it now … and mean it? Not just by the words you say, but by the life you live and by the service you give?

God does not want careless, casual Christians in His service. He never has. In the Old Testament, He whittled down Gideon’s army from 32,000 men to 300 by just weeding out those who did not take service to Him more seriously than anyone or anything else.

As our world unravels and our culture collapses, once again, God is looking for those who will take their service to Him seriously. Are you someone God is looking for?  ©2019 Anne Graham Lotz

 

The Scripture quotation is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.

Adapted from an article originally published in May 2006.

Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her latest book, “Storming the Gates of Heaven,” is available from major booksellers.